- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Sen. John Kerry announced yesterday he will accept his party’s nomination to run for president during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July, dispelling rumors that he intended to delay his acceptance.

“Boston is the place where America’s freedom began, and it’s where I want the journey to the Democratic nomination to be completed,” Mr. Kerry said yesterday.

Mr. Kerry spawned much speculation after his campaign leaked a proposal late last week to postpone accepting the nomination, and, thus, the formal start of his general-election campaign. The move would have delayed his acceptance of public funds and allowed him to continue to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money from private donors until then.

But the proposal brought criticism from Republicans, some Democrats and even journalists, who questioned the idea of covering the convention without Mr. Kerry’s official acceptance.

“I’m not sure that NBC should go to Boston just to cover a big pep rally,” anchor Tom Brokaw said this week.

Former Sen. George McGovern, the South Dakota Democrat who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972, expressed his disapproval of the Kerry non-nomination scheme.

“It’s the worst idea I’ve heard on timing since I gave my [acceptance] address at 2 a.m. in the morning,” he said. “I don’t believe in monkeying around with things like that.”

The plan also was met with reported consternation from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry’s elder senator from Massachusetts and major political benefactor, who told friends that he was not consulted on the idea.

Republicans, meanwhile, called the proposal yet another “flip-flop” by Mr. Kerry and accused him of trying to circumvent federal financing laws, which he has voted to support.

According to the Kerry proposal, the presumptive nominee would have delayed accepting and spending $75 million in public financing, which bars use of private donations, until President Bush accepted his party’s nomination five weeks later at the Republican National Convention.

Now, Mr. Bush will have to make his $75 million last only two months while Mr. Kerry will have to make his funds last more than three months. In other words, Mr. Bush can spend roughly $1.3 million per day, compared with Mr. Kerry’s roughly $830,000 per day, during a time when campaign money is traditionally spent on expensive national TV advertisements.

Mr. Kerry said he will still seek ways to deal with this disparity.

“We believe it is right to start the general election on the same day as our opponents, and we will continue to explore every way possible to level the playing field against the Republicans’ five-week advantage,” he said.

In the current election season — which is still technically the primary — both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry declined the limited federal financing in favor of raising an unlimited amount of money from private sources. Thus far, Mr. Bush has raised more than $200 million, and Mr. Kerry has raised a little more than $110 million.

Several officially independent groups also have been helping Mr. Kerry by raising tens of millions of dollars for negative ads against Mr. Bush.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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